How Long After an Accident Can You File a Personal Injury Claim in Alabama?July 26, 2021
- 1. The Alabama Statute of Limitations Made Simple
- 2. Why You Should Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Right Away
- 3. Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys Can Help You Recover From Your Accident
The moments after an auto accident are crucial. In an ideal world, every victim would speak with legal counsel in the first 24 hours — after leaving the scene and receiving the proper medical care, of course.
But vehicle crashes are chaotic, scary, and psychologically exhausting. When victims are overwhelmed with repair and recovery, they easily forget to consider their legal options. Some may not be aware that they have legal options in the first place. Either way, most don’t realize a clock began ticking the moment the accident occurred.
Alabama’s statute of limitations sets a sort of expiration date for legal action involving personal injury or wrongful death. If you wait too long, you may not be able to recover damages. Of course, not every car crash calls for a lawsuit — but it’s important that all accident survivors understand their options and the statute of limitations to make the most informed and prudent decision possible.
Even if you’re certain that your insurance claim will be cut and dry, you should speak with an experienced Alabama personal injury lawyer. Sometimes, seemingly “easy” cases have surprising complexity. Below, we’ll explain the statute of limitations and how it could affect your life after a car accident.
The Alabama Statute of Limitations Made Simple
Alabama, just like every other state in the U.S., has its own, state-specific statute of limitations laws concerning legal claims. These laws set a strict window of time during which you can file your personal injury lawsuit. If the statute of limitations expires before you file your lawsuit, a judge could dismiss your case—and you could lose your right to compensation.
These laws are all about consistency and order. Alabama’s courts want to resolve disputes efficiently. After all, it can become hard to collect decades-old evidence and witness memories can become unreliable. But how long is too long?
According to Alabama’s statute of limitations, the answer depends on the type of suit you want to file. The two most common types of accident-related lawsuits are personal injury claims and wrongful death suits. Here is how they differ.
You Have Two Years to File Most Personal Injury Claims
After a car accident, truck wreck, slip and fall, or another incident, you can demand compensation for your injuries. This might include payment of your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
In the State of Alabama, you typically must file your personal injury lawsuit within two years of the accident. For example, if a negligent driver ran a stop sign on July 1, 2021, and t-boned your vehicle, you must file your car accident suit by July 1, 2023.
If you’re filing a claim against a city or town government in Alabama (because of improper intersection markings, for instance), the statute of limitations is much stricter. In this case, you must provide a written notice of the claim within six months of the date you were injured.
In the State of Alabama, you typically must file your personal injury lawsuit within two years of the accident.
However, there are several reasons a court may extend or pause a personal injury statute of limitations. These are:
- You were incapacitated by the accident or declared incompetent. In this case, the court may allow an extension until you can make reasonable decisions. Alternatively, it could appoint a legal guardian to handle the case.
- If you are a child, Alabama pauses the statute of limitations until you reach the age of 19. Then, you have up to three years from your 19th birthday to file your lawsuit.
RELATED: I Just Had a Car Accident. What Do I Do Now?
Wrongful Death Claims Also Have a Two-Year Statute of Limitations, But There Are Other Requirements
A wrongful death suit claims the defendant contributed to the victim’s death through a wrongful act, negligent act, or the outright refusal to act. These suits are handled by the estate of the deceased (a little more on that in a moment).
Like personal injury suits, wrongful death suits fall under a two-year statute of limitations. However, there are other requirements that must be met much sooner.
Opening an Estate for Your Loved One
Alabama law states that only the representative of the deceased (such as an administrator or executor of the estate) may sue for wrongful death. Ideally, the deceased will have named a representative in their last will and testament — but sometimes it’s not that simple.
In most wrongful death cases, you will need to open an estate with the probate court before you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This involves filing detailed paperwork with the court—and it takes time.
And if a will was not created, someone must petition the court to become administrator. This must be done within 40 days of the victim’s death. If the time period elapses, the court might appoint someone else administrator.
Wrongful Death of a Child
If the person who died was a child, their parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit without opening an estate. However, the family only has six months to file their lawsuit.
If you miss this deadline, you will have to name a personal representative and open an estate for your child with the probate court.
RELATED: How Much Is a Wrongful Death Claim Worth in Alabama?
Why You Should Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Right Away
You should always consult with an attorney after an accident, whether on or off the road — but especially after a car or truck wreck. Not only will an attorney help you examine your options, they will also guide you through the insurance claims process so that you receive the most money possible.
Some of the most important reasons to seek counsel immediately include:
- Your legal counsel will know how Alabama’s laws affect your case and will be able to assess your situation.
- Unlike insurance adjusters (who often ask leading questions to trap you), your lawyer has your best interest at heart. Once you hire a lawyer, an insurance company can’t interview you without them present.
- With insurance, personal injury, and wrongful death claims, the burden of proof will fall on you — and evidence can disappear quickly after an accident.
- Investigating an accident and personal injury claim can take time — two years may feel like a lot, but it’s not. It’s better to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys Can Help You Recover From Your Accident
The lawyers at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys have been winning cases for decades and have recovered more than $500 million for their clients. If you’re considering a personal injury or wrongful death suit, or even just filing an insurance claim — call us for a free consultation (in person or remotely via phone or video chat) at 251-888-8888. Alternatively, fill out our easy-to-use form.
Ala. Code §6-2-8. Retrieved from http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/1975/6-2-8.htm
Ala. Code §6-2-38. Retrieved from http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/1975/6-2-38.htm
Ala. Code §6-5-391. Retrieved from http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/1975/6-5-391.htm
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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